Man told he's going to die by doctor on video-link robot

The video-link robot in hospital

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Julianne Spangler

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The doctor delivered the news through a video robot

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A doctor in California told a patient he was going to die using a robot with a video-link screen.

Ernest Quintana, 78, was at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Fremont when a doctor – appearing on the robot’s screen – informed him that he would die within a few days.

A family friend wrote on social media that it was “not the way to show value and compassion to a patient”.

The hospital says it “regrets falling short” of the family’s expectations.

Mr Quintana died the next day.

Julianne Spangler, a friend of Mr Quintana’s daughter, posted a photo of the robot on Facebook and said it “told [Mr Quintana] he has no lungs left only option is comfort care, remove the mask helping him breathe and put him on a morphine drip until he dies”.

She later told BBC News that it was “an extremely frustrating situation”, and “an atrocity of how care and technology are colliding”.

“I think the technological advances in medicine have been wonderful, but the line of ‘where’ and ‘when’ need to be black and white,” she added.

Michelle Gaskill-Hames, senior vice-president of Kaiser Permanente Greater Southern Alameda County, told the Associated Press that its policy was to have a nurse or doctor in the room when remote consultations took place.

“The evening video tele-visit was a follow-up to earlier physician visits,” she added. “It did not replace previous conversations with patient and family members and was not used in the delivery of the initial diagnosis.”

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